Like it or not, Noah needs to rest


Mar 1

By Adam Fluck

Joakim Noah’s plantar fasciitis has already shut him down for one seven-game stretch this season. The Bulls center confirmed Monday that he is facing another indefinite stint on the sidelines, which will likely last all this week and could extend until closer to the end of the regular season.

“I’m not healthy right now and I probably won’t be healthy until the end of the season,” said Noah. “I won’t be 100 percent, but at least I’ll be able to play when it matters. That’s the goal.”

Noah, of course, was referring to being back in action for the playoffs. The Bulls, with a record of 31-28 going into Monday’s contest against the Atlanta Hawks, would have the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference if the season was over today. Just a half game behind Toronto for the fifth spot, Chicago is also a mere two and a half games from the ninth seed with six and a half weeks of the regular season left.

“It could be a week, two weeks or a month,” Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro said on how much time Noah might miss. “I just don’t know because the plantar fasciitis is very difficult to monitor.”

“I don’t think it’s going to go away until he gets significant rest,” Del Negro added. “It’s poor timing, but you have to manage it as best as you can. You feel bad for Joakim, who is having a tremendous year. He’s very important to us, especially with his rebounding and activity, and improvement throughout the whole season. It’s a big loss right now and other guys will have to step up.”

While Noah’s performance and effort on Friday illustrated more clearly than ever his value to the team—he recorded eight points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes during a 115-111 overtime victory against Portland—another period of rest for Noah is the only option.

“Whenever I feel like I can put enough weight on it to walk without a boot,” Noah said about when he might be ready to return. “It’s frustrating, but at the same time, I just really have to focus on trying to get healthy so I can help the team.”

Noah called it the most frustrating injury he’s ever had to deal with. When asked if all alternatives had been exhausted, he replied: “I’m doing every treatment possible. It’s just frustrating because I can’t really do anything right now. All I can do is rest.”

In the meantime, Del Negro said the Bulls would discuss bringing in some help at the center position.

“We’ll see who gets released and look at different scenarios,” he said. “There’s no question that we could use another big body.”

As for Noah, rest is what the doctor ordered. It’s the last thing he wants, but he sounded determined as ever to be back on the court and prepared to make a difference for a team still very much focused on the postseason.

“I’ll be back,” Noah vowed. “I know that. I’ll be back and we’ll be ready. We have a lot of tough tests coming up, but we have a good team and guys are stepping up. We’re playing confident basketball and we just need to keep getting better. When the playoffs come, we’ll be ready.”

Audio—Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro on Noah’s injury, taking on the Hawks and factoring in playoff positioning as the stretch run approaches (03.01.10):

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